by Micah Hart
You may have noticed it’s the offseason, which means we have plenty of time to sit around and think about many of the things that make it fun to be an NBA fan. Here at All Ball, we’ll be passing the time until the start of the season with a new series, the Fave Five. Each week will count down a list of the five best, or worst … somethings. We’ll try to get creative with it. Plus we’re taking requests! If you have a suggestion for a Fave Five post, give us a shout and you may see it appear in this space over the next several weeks.
You often hear complaints during All-Star Weekend about things that need to be fixed, most often in reference to the dunk contest. “Where are the stars? That guy got robbed! How come they get so many chances?”
You know what you never hear complaints about? The 3-Point Shootout. You know why? Because the 3-Point Shootout is perfect. There’s no controversy over judging. There’s no debate over someone’s performance relative to another shooter. And best of all, the game’s best shooters typically WANT to be in the contest, which has led to a general Who’s Who of champions over the years. Bird. Price. Nowitzki. Stojakovic. Allen.
Sadly, like The Highlander, there can be only one (winner each year), which means some pretty terrific marksmen have come up empty over their careers.
In this week’s Fave Five, we take a look at the five best shooters to never win the NBA’s signature shooting event. Obviously there have been hundreds of excellent shooters, so we chose to include only those who participated in the event itself on multiple occasions but came up empty.
5. Hubert Davis
3-Point Bonafides: Perhaps the least accomplished player on this list in terms of his overall body of work, Davis was nonetheless one of the NBA’s sweetest 3-point shooters during his 12-year career. Hubert currently ranks third all time in 3-point shooting percentage, with a career .441 mark (728-1651), including a league-leading .491 with the Mavs in 1999-00.
3-Point History: Davis participated in the shootout three times, in 1996, 1998, and 2000. His best performance came in ’98, when he poured in 24 points in the semis, making 11 straight shots at one point. Unfortunately he peaked too soon and could only muster 10 more in the final round, eventually losing to Jeff Hornacek. Davis failed to make it out of the first round in his other two entries.
4. Dennis Scott
3-Point Bonafides: The man’s nickname is 3-D, and it’s not because he is an overly used movie technology that charges way too much for an inferior product. Scott led the league in 3-pointers made in 1995-96 with 267*, which was the league record until Ray Allen broke it with 269 in 2005-06. At present, Scott rates 40th all-time in 3-pointers made with 1,214, and 41st in percentage at .397.
* This was one of the seasons where the line was moved in to 22 feet, but it’s impressive nonetheless.
3-Point History: Scott was only in two shootouts, in 1991 and 1996, which is pretty surprising. He acquitted himself well both times, reaching the semifinals in ’91 and falling in the finals to a red-hot Tim Legler in ’96. That shootout was particularly tough, as Scott had the top score in each of the three rounds — of any contestant not named Legler.
3. Rashard Lewis
3-Point Bonafides: Lewis has consistently been one of the top long-range threats since coming into the NBA out of high school in 1998. He peaked as a shooter in his first two seasons in Orlando (2007-08 and ’08-09) with Dwight Howard drawing so much attention in the paint, making 200+ 3-pointers each of his first two seasons and a league-leading 220 in 2008-09. Currently eighth all-time in 3-pointers made with 1,690, Lewis should see plenty of opportunities to add to that total with all the open shots he should get in Miami.
3-Point History: Lewis has participated in three career shootouts: in 2001, ’04, and ’09. He failed to move past the first round in his first two cracks at it, but redeemed himself in 2009, making it all the way to the finals, where he lost in overtime to Daequan Cook**. Rashard is only 33, so he’s still got some time left if he wants to take another crack at it. In fact, the 2013 All-Star Weekend takes place in his hometown of Houston, Texas, so I would not be surprised if he’s in the field in February.
** Mostly redeemed, that is. He and Cook both hit 15 in their first attempts, then Cook waxed him 19-7 in the extra frame.
2. Steve Nash
3-Point Bonafides: There is little Steve Nash cannot do on a basketball court, and while we all think of him as this generation’s ultimate creator, he is in fact a flat-out sniper from long range. Nash is currently 10th all-time in 3-pointers with 1,620, which is particularly impressive when you consider the fact that he’s the only point guard on this list, and almost always prefers to set up his teammates rather than shoot himself. Nash also ranks eighth on the all-time percentage list at .428, which again is impressive, as he doesn’t often have the luxury of spotting up and waiting for someone to fling him the rock.
3-Point History: Nash has suited up three times for the shootout. He failed to make it out of the first round twice, in 2001 and ’08 (dropping the lowest score, 9, in that one). In 2002, Nash made it to the finals, but finished one point shy of matching Wesley Person and Peja Stojakovic, who eventually won in an overtime round. Nash has won the Skills Competition twice, but that’s a Fave Five list for another time.
1. Reggie Miller
3-Point Bonafides: Surprising, no? The recent Hall of Fame inductee held the record for most career 3-point makes, overtaking Dale Ellis in 1997-98 and holding on until Allen surpassed him in 2011. Miller was consistently brilliant from long range, hitting 150+ in a season nine times, yet somehow led the league in makes only twice (in 1992-93 and 1996-97).
3-Point History: Reggie competed in the 3-Point Shootout five times, more than anyone else in history aside from Craig Hodges, Ellis and Allen. His results varied widely: twice he flopped in the opening round (1993, ’98), once he made the semifinals but no further (’89), and twice he made the finals, in ’90 and ’95. In both those instances, Miller fell by a single point, first to Hodges*** (19-18), then to Glen Rice (17-16). Oh so close, but nothing doing.
***Hodges was a particular thorn in Reggie’s side in the shootout. The two of them tied for the last spot in the semis in 1993, but Hodges won a shootoff to advance. Also, seriously Craig, eight times? Maybe let someone else have a turn, yeah?